Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) has acquired and is planning to display five rare prints by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), one of the most celebrated artists of the twentieth century.
The five new works are from a group of 15 etchings and drypoints known as ‘La Suite des Saltimbanques’ and were created on the cusp between the artist’s ‘blue’ (1901–04) and ‘rose’ (1904–06) periods. The new prints are integrally connected to Picasso’s paintings and drawings of the same period, which significantly includes La Belle Hollandaise 1905, held in the QAGOMA Collection.
‘The Gallery is extraordinarily fortunate to hold one of Picasso’s most celebrated early paintings, La Belle Hollandaise 1905. This group of five of Picasso’s most important prints, acquired through the generous support of private benefactors, now brings our total Picasso holdings to 13 works,’ said QAGOMA Director Chris Saines, CNZM.
‘Comprising some of the best known works in the ‘Saltimbanques’ suite, what is remarkable about these prints is the common humanity and humility of their subjects – representing the downcast social milieu of actors and acrobats in which Picasso was moving at the time – and the economy, sensitivity and brilliance with which it is captured. They provide an entirely new context for La Belle Hollandaise.’
Le Repas frugal (The frugal meal), the most valuable of the newly acquired works, and a rare impression of Salomé were purchased with funds donated by the Margaret Olley Art Trust.
‘Through extensive research and an international, 13-month search, undertaken by QAGOMA’s Assistant Curator, International Art, Sally Foster, we have now been able to secure these works with the generosity of the late Margaret Olley and other Gallery Foundation supporters.’ said Mr Saines.
The works were made immediately following the artist’s move from Spain to France in 1904, when he was only 22 years old. The etchings are his first serious attempt at printmaking, when Picasso looked to translate his painterly style to the printmaking process, and mark an important period of personal and artistic transition in the artist’s life.
The new acquisitions will go on display in the Philip Bacon Galleries, QAG from 22 August 2015.
Established by the artist in 1990 to acquire works of art for public collections, the Trust continues to pursue the late Margaret Olley’s project of philanthropic support for the arts. It has made significant gifts to both state and regional galleries across Australia, including to QAGOMA, since 1992. Margaret Olley also held works by renowned artists including Picasso and Matisse in her private collection, which she later gifted to state galleries, QAGOMA among them.
The Trust’s leading support enabled QAGOMA to acquire two works from ‘La Suite de Saltimbanques’, and attract other benefactors who helped secure three additional prints: La Toilette de la Mère (Mother dressing), Tête de Femme de Profil (Head of a woman in profile) and Les deux Saltimbanques (The two acrobats) all 1905.